Schooling and education are two different things. We have got the schooling right, but we still need to get the education right. If we are in an expensive car, but cannot control road rage, if there is a slight dash to our car, or if we just roll down the window of our super expensive car, to throw the ice cream wrapper out, then we have been schooled not educated. Now that we have fixed our schools, trained our teachers abroad, lets focus on educating our studentsManish Sisodia, Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi
When the AAP government took charge in Delhi, one of the key areas of their focus was improving the education system. They started with a budget provision of 22% of the total budget, when previous Delhi governments had spent only 13%, while the national average is only 15%. The education budget has since then been increased to 26%.
With this beefed up budget, they built 26 new schools, 30 still in progress, this despite the centre’s interference in every area, including denying them land for building the schools. Since they were not given even those lands reserved for schools by the Delhi Development Authority, they totally overhauled the existing schools, rebuilding the schools with additional classrooms. The reconstruction has been done with no compromise in quality whatsoever, which would put the best of private schools to shame.
The government in just four years have added over 8000 classrooms, with another 12,000 in progress.
The schools now have world class facilities, including smart classrooms, world class sports facilities including Olympic size pools, well stocked libraries, modernized laboratories and spacious, revamped auditoriums.
Besides sprucing up the school buildings, they filled in vacancies, from over 18,000 to a little over 6000 vacancies waiting to be filled yet, which helped the teacher student quotient. They didn’t just stop there. They also sent their teachers abroad for international exposure, to new learnings, to be applied to Delhi schools. They even got the parents involved through the School Management Committees (SMC), for increased accountability. Efforts were also taken to improve the quality of the midday meals.
After focusing on getting the schooling processes streamlined, Manish Sisodia and his team got rolling on getting the education component in, in their mission to turn out well rounded citizens in the world.
In a conference, held in Moscow, where the education ministers of 45 countries attended and they reeled off the technological advancements in their classrooms, the Delhi education minister Manish Sisodia, rose up to ask If all the education ministers present in the room can take steps to end social ills like terrorism, corruption, religious hatred and pollution through education ? Instead of just being focused on bringing newer and newer markets in the classrooms.
Can the focus instead be on raising wholesome, well rounded individuals, not just factory workers, from a Macaulay designed education system? This is the aim behind the Happiness Curriculum introduced by the Delhi government, for students from nursery to the 8th grade, in July 2018. Since its introduction, it has been generating a lot of interest world wide.
Besides practicing mindfulness first thing in the morning, which helps them settle down their minds, at the start of their day, once a week they also have a 40 minute class, where they have a mindfulness session, storytelling with a moral, a fun activity like drawing and ends with discussions on the impact of mindfulness practice through the week.
Mindfulness which started in India 3000-4000 years ago, is being practiced through the world now, but making it as an essential part of a school curriculum is an innovative move.
Teachers have already reported reduced stress levels, reduced anger, reduced lying, reduced complaining, key issues which need to be addressed because most of Delhi government students come from the lower strata of society, where they are exposed to poverty, single parenting, instances of
domestic violence, among other challenges.
After the success of the Happiness curriculum which received world wide attention, they set the ball rolling to implement yet another educational innovation of theirs, the Entrepreneur Mindset curriculum.
After fixing the classrooms, the AAP government intends changing the very nature of classrooms, by bringing in innovations like the happiness curriculum and the entrepreneur mindset curriculum.
The Delhi government plans to do this by laying the foundation of entrepreneur curriculum for students between classes 9-10 and then give students of 11-12 a seed fund of Rs 1000, and Rs 5000, for college students. The idea is to encourage the students to singularly or collectively in small groups, come up with ideas to multiply that fund.
The curriculum aims to help students drop their fears, dream of creating big and go about achieving it, first from the safety of their own classrooms. The idea is to encourage lakhs of students in these classes, so that atleast a few thousand are inspired to be become entrepreneurs.
The country’s economy is pushed ahead by job creators, not job seekers. If 99.9 % of the students that we push out from our institutes, are job seekers then where will be the employers. Lack of employment opportunities for highly qualified youth, makes them rush off to foreign shores to seek employment.
Several educational and industry experts were involved in designing the curriculum, including Binny Bansal of Flipkart.